Belles struggle over break
Observer Sports Staff | Wednesday, January 13, 2016
While most students were back home for Winter Break, Saint Mary’s was still out on the court.
The Belles (1-14, 1-5 MIAA) fell to Millikin, 73-60, on Dec. 19. Senior forward Eleni Shea scored 20 points, a career-high, leading Saint Mary’s. The game featured 10 lead changes and was tied with only six minutes remaining. However, the Belles’ offense was scoreless over that stretch, resulting in a loss.
Saint Mary’s then had a brief break for Christmas before returning to play Dec. 28-29 at the Otterbein Tournament in Westerville, Ohio. The Belles played two games in the tourney, losing to Otterbein, 78-67, and North Central, 100-73.
Against the Cardinals, the Belles had five scorers in double figures, led by senior forward Krista Knapke with 18 points. Shea and senior guard Maddie Kohler were both perfect from the free throw line, shooting a combined 13-for-13 and contributing to the Belles’ 90-percent night at the charity stripe. However, the Belles were unable to overcome a 16-0 third-quarter run by the Cardinals.
Against North Central, junior forward Kelsey Ronan led Saint Mary’s with 22 points, but the Belles were overmatched by the Division III leaders in points per game, as North Central pulled away early.
Saint Mary’s returned home Jan. 6 to face fourth-ranked Hope but came away with another loss, 93-53. Sophomore forward Gabby Diamond and Shea both reached double-digits, and Kohler added seven assists. After a close first quarter, the Flying Dutch broke out with a 10-2 run. The Belles chipped into the deficit some in the second quarter, but the Flying Dutch eventually pulled away.
For their last game over break, the Belles traveled to Adrian for a matchup against the Bulldogs on Saturday but fell, 71-58. The teams traded the lead back and forth in the first half, and the Belles were able to force 21 turnovers. Despite the tough defense, the Bulldogs held off a late Saint Mary’s comeback attempt and came out with the victory.
The Belles take on Kalamazoo on the road Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Hornets (5-9, 2-4) are coming off a win against Alma, who Saint Mary’s defeated, 68-56, at home Dec. 9.